Mangrove forests store more carbon than we previously thought, bolstering global incentives to protect and replant them. Much of the mangrove carbon is locked up in rich organic soils beneath them.
Publishing in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers based in Indonesia and the US measured the amount of carbon stored by mangroves in 25 sites across a large tract of the Indo-Pacific spanning Indonesia, Micronesia, and Bangladesh: a much larger area than previous studies have looked at.
They estimate that up to 10% of the carbon dioxide emitted globally when forests are cut come from areas of cleared mangroves, even though this accounts for under 1% of the area of tropical forests.
Mangroves are disappearing fast. We've already removed more than half the world's mangroves in the last 50 years. They've been cut down to make into firewood and charcoal, and to make way for fish and shrimp farms.
There are many reasons why mangroves need protecting. They provide vital nursery areas for commercial fish, they protect coastlines and so play an important role in protecting coastal communities from the impacts of sea level rise.
This new study lends yet more weight to the argument for protecting mangroves, with their substantial carbon stores adding to the major benefits they provide.
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Daniel Donato et al. Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics.
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